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  • Book Signings: 7 Tips for Successful Book Signings and Readings

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    Books - Perfect Bound, Self-publishing

    Book signings and book readings can create publicity for your book, connect with readers, and give you much-needed practice in book promotion. They’re a wonderful way to celebrate your achievement and meet your fans. While book signings and book readings don’t automatically translate to big sales, they are an important part of any author’s marketing plan. Here are some tips to making your book signings a success.

    1. Practice Reading Aloud

    If you’re not a regular public speaker, you may find it difficult at first. Experienced public speakers have learned how to modulate their voices and read in a way that keeps audiences rapt. Inexperienced speakers reveal themselves by coming across as flat in tone or lacking in confidence.

    How do you improve? It’s simple. Practice, and keep practicing. Start by reading aloud in front of a mirror. Use a recorder on your phone or a tape recorder to record yourself during your first attempts. If you don’t like the way you sound at first, keep in mind that you will improve.

    2. Learn from the Experts about Book Signings and Readings

    To get good at book readings, you must be good at giving speeches. This isn’t an inborn talent, but it’s one that anyone can develop with work and practice.

    Watch people who regularly give speeches and talks in public. These can range from celebrities at awards shows to college professors delivering lectures. Preachers, sales consultants, and coaches are all people who make a living from their ability to inspire others through their speech. You can find these videos on social media. Watch them, and make note of what you like—or don’t like—about the way they deliver their speeches.

    Consider joining a club like Toastmasters International. This educational organization has been around for a 100 years. Its mission is to teach public speaking skills. For a low yearly cost, you can learn to deliver powerful speeches and build self-confidence. If book readings are part of your marketing plan for your book, this could be a worthwhile investment.

    3. Schedule a Q&A

    Readers enjoy an opportunity to connect with you after a reading. They may have questions about your book or your sources. When you schedule your reading, remember to include about 15 minutes for a question-and-answer session. You may also want to include book signings for anyone who buys your book at the event.

    4. Add Visual Props for Book Signings and Book Readings

    Make your book signings and book readings memorable by incorporating visual elements. Besides a poster of your book cover—which is necessary—consider adding photos that reflect the themes of your book. Did you draft your book while sitting at a scenic window of a library or café? Include a picture of it in poster size to help your readers identify with you as a writer.

    Do you have photos or illustrations that inspired your story? Do you have pictures of the real-life people involved in your book? These are all good subjects for a few full-sized pictures you can use during your speech and book signings.

    To do this, select some pictures that will enlighten your listeners and add visual interest to your reading. Get them reproduced and printed on poster stock or heavy cardboard. You’ll also need an easel or other display stand.

    5. Act Like a Seasoned Professional at Book Signings and Book Readings

    You may be a nervous, first-time writer, but you have done the challenging work of completing a book and getting it published. You’re a professional, and people should see that by the way you act in public.

    Show up early. Being late to your own book signings is a mistake that makes you look sloppy and disorganized. Arrive well before the scheduled time. You’ll have a chance to make sure you have everything you need. Set up your table and your visual props. If you’re using a microphone, check to make sure it’s working.

    Respect your audience. People in your audience took time out of their lives to attend your book signings or readings. Show that you appreciate them by being respectful of their time and attention. Don’t respond rudely to questions or comments, even if you think they’re irrelevant. If someone really steps out of line, just say you don’t intend to answer that, and move on politely to the next question. Fortunately, this type of audience member is rare. Most will want to know more about the topic, story, or your writing habits.

    Look neat and groomed. On the day of the signing, be sure your hair, nails, and shoes are all well-groomed. You aren’t competing in a fashion parade, but wear clothes that are clean, well-fitting, and flattering.

    6. Have Reasonable Expectations of Your Book Signings and Readings

    Don’t expect a big crowd for a first-time, self-published writer. You aren’t a known name, and people are unlikely to spend time attending book signings or readings by an unknown writer who isn’t backed by a large corporate publisher. Those are the cold, hard facts, but don’t let them discourage you. You can still get many benefits from book signings and book readings, including:

    Ability to advertise your book and yourself as a writer. Book signings or readings can be a low-cost way to reach the public. Remember, everyone had to start somewhere. One successful self-published writer started by visiting bookstores and selling copies of his book from the back of his car. Over time, the book sold so many copies that a commercial publisher took note and published the book.

    Support for your favorite venues. If your signing is at an independent bookstore or other local business, you’re showing your support for your community and your local economy. Be sure to thank the venue during your reading. Encourage attendees to support the business.

    Get your name in front of readers. For an unknown writer, all publicity is valuable. Your efforts may seem slow at first, but over time, as you continue doing signings and readings, your name will become better known.

    Test your book’s appeal. A book reading is an effective way to gauge readers’ responses to your writing.

    Practice your public speaking and networking skills. If you want your book to gain the kind of exposure that leads to sales, there’s no way around it. You must get out there and promote it. Some authors are natural small talkers who can work any room. If you’re naturally gregarious and outgoing, use that to your advantage. Others have difficulty meeting new people or promoting themselves. If that’s you, you may need to take it slowly so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

    How do you cope with an empty bookstore or other venue? Invite your friends, family members, and any professionals who helped you with your book, and ask them to invite their friends. This will help your signing look like it’s well attended. That may attract curious passersby or customers who are already in the store. It will also give you a chance to practice your question-and-answer skills.

    7. Choose Your Venue with Care—and Be Creative

    Bookstores aren’t the only places where you can hold book signings and book readings. When you choose a venue, think about the type of people who are likely to be interested in your book. Where’s the best place to reach them? Here are some examples.

    Gyms and health clubs: Is your book on a fitness topic, or is it a fictional book set in a gym? Consider holding your signing at a fitness or yoga studio. These venues may also be receptive to healthy living cookbooks, natural healing, or aromatherapy.

    Small stores: Explore your local mall or downtown shopping area. Are there small specialty stores that would be relevant to your book’s topic or theme? A store that specializes in cooking implements is a natural fit for a recipe book. An aromatherapy store might be ideal for your book on distilling herbs.

    Colleges and universities: Colleges are an excellent choice because they have a built-in audience and affordable venues. These venues often welcome writers, especially those that have written books of interest to college students. Does your book deal with a popular sport, game, or hobby? Is it useful for students pursuing a particular career? You will find an open and attentive audience. Contact student groups and community colleges near you.

    Book Signings and Readings Can Spur Your Success

    Your success as a writer depends on a combination of perseverance, marketing, and publicity efforts. Use readings and signings to get your name out to the public, connect with your community, and increase your book sales. If you need help with any aspect of book printing and publishing, contact the experts at Dazzle Printing.


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